My Three Favorite Ways To Cheat The Airlines


Airlines love to cheat us.   They price gouge us for last minute tickets.  When we are late there are huge penalties and change fees, but when they are late, too bad.    They also have bizarre policies that penalize you for not flying a leg (hidden cities).

That is why I, as many travelers, do not have a problem getting back at them occasionally.

1.  Using my child’s car seat to check a bag I have a pretty unblemished record of not paying bag fees.   I also have a small child, and I know that passengers are allowed to check child safety equipment without charge.   What do I do?   I put my kid’s child seat in a large duffel bag, on top of the things I need to check anyways.    At the check in counter, I unzip the bag a few inches and show them the child seat.    The last thing they are going to do is open my duffel all the way and go through my stuff.    I have even been known to do travel with a car seat even when there is one waiting for me at my destination.    You can never be too safe, right?

2. Using a schedule change to rebook a ticket Airlines love charging customers $150 plus fare differences to make even the most minor change.    On the other hand, most airlines will change their schedule every 90 days.   When that happens, it is almost inevitable that one of your flights will be rescheduled.    The change can just a few minutes, but I have had airlines move my flight by a day when they cut back their schedule.    No matter what the change, this is your opportunity to get a free change in for yourself.    Just call and ask for a different flight in light of their schedule change.   You may need to make up some excuse about a meeting that will be interrupted, but it is likely that the agent just doesn’t care.   They will change your flight to an earlier or later one, or perhaps even the next day.    Don’t forget, once you accept the schedule change, you are locked in just as before, they will not let you make more than one change unless they change their schedule again.

3. Playing the disability card. Last month, I broke my shoulder in a bicycle accident.   Since then, I had to make one trip when my arm was in a sling.   What do you know, the gate agent let me board first.  I have since learned that, by law, you merely need to request early boarding for a disability, and they are not allowed to question you as to your disability, due to concerns for your privacy.   That said, this is the one rule I am the least likely to abuse.  On the other hand, it is nice to know that you can use it if you really feel you need some extra time to board for some legitimate reason short of being in a wheelchair, but are not about to pay for some B.S. early boarding fee.

The airlines have set the rules, we are merely playing by them.   There is no doubt that the airlines are going all the way to extract as many fees from passengers as possible.    Short of faking a disability, I have no problem using all the tricks I can come up with to play their game to my advantage.

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